GULFPORT -- An Army National Guard member and former Marine who served in Iraq pleaded guilty Wednesday to his involvement in a drug-trafficking trade that authorities said included sales of synthetic drugs to military members.
David Cooper, 44, of Gulfport, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, the generic of Xanax, in a plea deal with the government.
In exchange, the government will dismiss other charges against him at his sentencing. His wife, Regina Cooper, 48, already pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony for knowing about her husband's drug-trafficking trade and failing to report it to authorities.
David Cooper faces a maximum penalty of five years and up to a $250,000 fine at his Jan. 28 sentencing.
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Authorities arrested the couple on charges of conspiring to distribute meth, Ecstasy, alprazolam and synthetic narcotics similar to Spice or bath salts. The conspiracy occurred in Harrison County and elsewhere between December 2012 and June 23.
According to an agent with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics assigned to Homeland Security Investigations, David Cooper's customers included military members who wanted synthetic narcotics because they don't show up on drug tests.
Authorities first arrested the couple in May 2014, shortly after authorities at a New York airport intercepted a package of drugs from India addressed to David Cooper. Authorities said other packages containing drugs intercepted in Gulfport came from other countries, including China and Pakistan.
Among the evidence seized at the couple's home were various other drugs and equipment used to weigh and package drugs, along with postal-tracking receipts.
Authorities also found a video that showed David Cooper manufacturing drugs. In the same video featuring a small child, David Cooper can be heard complaining about his pill press not working.
David Cooper's mother said after court Wednesday she felt her son, who worked at a South Mississippi casino, got involved in the drug trade because he was "money hungry."
David Cooper remains jailed pending sentencing. His wife is out of jail on bond pending her Jan. 26 sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie prosecuted the case.